Inspiration + Imagination + Challenge

Bambara’s Lesson for Readers

by Marian Mirosław Soja


A story “The Lesson,” by Toni Cade Bambara, in spite of offensive language used in the story, is an interesting experience for a reader. The story is about Ms. Moore, a young and brave teacher, who has her mission to bring higher educational standards to black and poor community. Although Ms. Moore appears as a secondary character, the story is about her effort to teach children who are not interested in learning. Moreover, she faces additional challenge – the children do not like her.


The narrator, a black teenage girl, describes Ms Moore from her own perspective, which represents opinions among children in her class. Indeed, Ms Moore does not fit to students’ culture standards. For example, “(…) block with nappy hair and proper speech and no makeup. And quite naturally we laughed at her, (…) And we kinda hated her too (…) ”

Ms. Moore is a black female who is well educated. Her educational standards do not fit her surrounding. Probably she tries to teach her students follow standards that she learns at a college. Unfortunately, everything what she learned at the college about teaching others became useless - students do not like her classes. For instance, “And she was always planning these boring-ass things for us to do, us being my cousin,”


The story does not mention about Ms Moore feelings, but it is not difficult to image what a dedicated teacher could feel in shoes of Ms Moore. In spite of it, Ms Moore does not give up. She changes the strategy and takes her students for a field trip to a different world – the world of her educational standards.


Ms Moore’s new strategy is simple but very effective - she exposes her students to some real life challenges and experiences. For example, instead of teaching in a class calculating percentages - which are too boring for her students - she arranged a challenge for the narrator to calculate 10% for a taxi driver’s tip. Further, Ms More took her students to an exclusive toy store instead to a “boring” museum. At the store, her students in natural way show their curiosity about toys. In other words, children, who do not have yet developed an abstract thinking, can only learn something new through real life experiences.


Copyright © 2001-2017 Marian Mirosław Soja

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 Inspiration + Imagination + Challenge